What’s Happening In The Restaurant Industry Right Now… And How You Can Help

When news of the novel coronavirus first broke out, local restaurants initially responded with ramping up their sanitation policies and ensuring customers of their safety. However, the spread of the pandemic has brought on citywide mandated shutdowns of bars, nightclubs, and restaurant dine-in service in an effort to slow transmission. Merchants have since pivoted to takeout and delivery only, and face the struggle of unemployment and inadequate revenue.

Other local businesses have opted to close their doors entirely until further notice, leaving many staff members without a job or source of income. Efforts to provide curbside pickup and discounted menu items have fallen short especially for restaurants located in metropolitan areas, such as Los Angeles and New York, who rely heavily on constant foot traffic to stay afloat.

How can you support your local restaurants in their time of need while ensuring your own safety?

1.) Order takeout and delivery

  • Opt for curbside pickup to minimize contact and practice safe social distancing
  • Use 3rd party delivery apps such as Postmates or DoorDash who are now offering contactless delivery

2.) Purchase gift cards from your favorite local merchants

3.) Tell your friends and family to do the same!

 

The restaurant industry needs the help of their local communities now more than ever. Help us keep them afloat by taking on these 3 simple steps!

 

Helpful resources for restaurants/local businesses:

ItsACheckmate – A 3rd party integration that sends delivery orders directly to your Focus POS system

Contact our Finance Team for payment deferment options

HelpDesk Customer Support – Data reporting backup for Business Interruption insurance and other support related questions

Should You Adopt Pay at the Table?

Focus On
Table-side device & app

More restaurants are realizing the benefits of order and pay at the table devices and have progressively started to implement the technology. These table-side handhelds are designed to maximize portability for your restaurant staff and minimize wait times for customers.

According to a National Restaurant Association survey, 61% of diners claim that handheld POS devices improve their overall guest experience. Read on to learn how investing in pay at the table technology can positively affect your business:

Added Convenience

Table-side devices make payments more convenient, especially when it comes to splitting the bill. With Focus On, our new table-side app, customers can use Split Pay to pay individually by seat number or simply tap Pay in Full to checkout quickly. This method reduces the lag of leaving out cash or several credit cards and waiting for a server to pick it up.

Faster Service

Table-side payments cut down on all the back and forth to and from the central POS terminal and allows your customers to checkout on their own time. This yields a better dining experience and faster table turnover, benefiting both those who have finished eating and those who are waiting for a table.

Higher Tips

Investing in pay at the table technology may help increase tips. On top of the shorter wait times that can result in happier customers and bigger tips, Focus On devices offer tip-prompting screens with fixed tip percentages (10%, 15%, or 20%) or custom amounts.

Secure Checkout

Focus On devices are compatible with all types of payment — including chip cards and contactless payments. That not only allows your customers to pay in whatever way they want but also means that you’re using secure, EMV-compliant payment methods.

If you’re ready to adopt pay at the table technology at your restaurant or bar or just want more information about its capabilities, our Solutions Consultants are here to guide you.

Gen Z: Engaging a New Generation of Consumers

The development of Instagram, Snapchat, and other social networking platforms has molded a new generation of young adults who curate and share every aspect of their life online. 

Gen Z, individuals born after 1996, are estimated to have a purchasing power worth $44 billion and represent approximately 40% of all consumer shopping. This new generation of consumers love to dine out and share their food experiences on social media, hence their mantra “The camera eats first.”

With this much influence, restaurants should focus on engaging this consumer group to gain positive publicity and word of mouth. Here are a few tips for getting Gen Z’s attention:

Have an active social media presence

Gen Z relies on the internet for all their information. They love their smartphones and have short attention spans, relying on visuals to stay connected and absorb new information. Establishing a strong social presence and building content is a great way to increase exposure.

  • Encourage guests to take pictures by creating a space that is aesthetically pleasing and share-worthy
  • Offer visually appealing dishes 
  • Encourage geotagging and check-in by creating a unique atmosphere

Consider influencer marketing

Where previous generations responded to celebrity sponsors, Gen Z is much more receptive to relatable social influencers. They break them down into 4 categories:

  • Celebrities
  • Influencers
  • In-between cultural shapers
  • Micro-influencers

Micro-influencers carry the most weight when it comes to social media for restaurants. They are highly niche, localized individuals that sustain higher engagement rates than their macro-influencer counterparts.  Leverage relevant foodie bloggers in your area and create partnerships that will generate brand authenticity and appeal.

Maintain a socially responsible experience

For Gen Z, everything is about the experience—but also of high importance is whether something aligns with their ideals about social responsibility and desire to make a positive impact in the environment.

  • Menu options that are health-conscious and help to sustain the environment
  • Sustainable food waste management
  • Supporting causes aligned with their business activities
  • Use of emerging technologies

Gen Z grew up with instant access to technology, so it would make sense that they support and look for the use of emerging technologies in their dining experiences. Anything that can be automated such as the use of table-side devices or online ordering attracts Gen Z.

Attracting Gen Z is half the battle, keeping them engaged with your restaurant long-term is key. Are you prepared to cater to the “want it all” mentality of Gen Z? The first step is to equip your restaurant with the right tools for success.

Contact one of our Solutions Consultants today to learn more.

Know When to Upgrade Your POS

Thinking about upgrading your POS or just want to refresh some equipment? Read our tips below to learn the tell-tale signs that you may need a new system.

1. Hardware Headaches

Frequent hardware malfunctions, such as monitors that won’t power on or receipt printers that won’t print, may indicate that your POS system is at risk of failure and should be replaced. And if a repair is possible, the cost of replacement parts and lost business will eventually exceed the price of upgrading the entire POS system.

2. Payments Rejected or Delayed

Recurring payment rejections or delays may signal that your POS processing system is outdated and in need of upgrade. Rejected or delayed transactions are indicators that your current system is not setup to receive specific types of payment. If the problem persists, contact your payment processor as soon as possible to ensure minimal lost business.

3. Lack of Support

Initiating and executing tailored loyalty programs and promotions, engaging with consumers based on detailed records of their purchases and preferences, offering online order fulfillment in-store, and adhering to an omni-channel business model are all vital if restaurateurs are to satisfy the customer experience. Any POS system that does not allow for these features should be upgraded as soon as possible.

4. Keeping Up with Data & Analytics

Savvy restaurant operators constantly strive to improve their business—but doing so is impossible without actionable data and analytics from the POS system. Unless your system allows you to view store and web-related data while also yielding a holistic view of customers, it will be impossible to implement the degree of change needed to effect the growth of your organization.

Contact one of our Solutions Consultants if you’re ready to upgrade today!

Restaurant Trends for 2020

Who is the next-generation customer and what are their expectations? 

Today’s diners are well-connected, tech savvy, and expect a high-quality restaurant customer experience—whether visiting a five-star sit down, fast-casual, or the drive-thru.

As a restaurant operator or owner, understanding where the bar is set is the first step toward capitalizing on the customer journey. Approaching 2020, restaurants need to make a conscious shift toward offering future-facing operations with the ability to meet the expectations of their customers.

Menu and Order Customization

According to a consumer study by Deloitte, the number one factor that influences consumers when selecting a restaurant is menu options and order customization.

Employing the right POS systems for your type of restaurant can attract loyal customers. Self-service kiosks for example, engage customers and make them part of their experience giving them freedom to easily customize their own orders. In doing so, the opportunity to fast upsell and cross promote increases with all the menu options at their fingertips. In QSR, when technology is used to place an order, reports show it increases the frequency of visits by 6% AND a 20% increase to the average spend per visit.

Excellent service in-house and out-of-house

Guest experience starts with service. Tablets or kiosks can be used for line-busting rather than keeping hungry guests waiting. Offering flexible payment, like pay-at-the-table options, keep guests involved and frees staff to care for other guests needing attention.

Guests want a quality experience, but quickly. Enhance the speed of service with POS technology. Integrate your POS with mobile options so servers can accommodate guests right on the floor, adding on a dessert or ordering another drink from the bar when they ask for it. A KDS streamlines communication between front and back of house to ensure timely and accurate order prep.

Service isn’t limited to inside the restaurant, guests choosing your restaurant for takeout expect their experience to be seamless. Online and mobile ordering adds value and convenience to the customer journey— 40% of customers prefer to order online for quick pickup and delivery. When given this option, the average spend also increases by 26% in QSR and 13% in casual and fast-casual restaurants.

Loyalty Perks

Customers in 2020 are all about perks—87% of survey respondents belong to fewer than 3 loyalty programs each. If your goal is to attract new customers and turn them into returning customers, offer a loyalty program stuffed with rewards. Diners that can earn a discount (51%) or reward (44%) are more likely to choose that restaurant over another in order to continue earning.

Customers love the points but don’t want to keep track of them. Paper punch cards are in the past—our tech-savvy diners are demanding restaurant apps with features to track their loyalty points.

Payments

When it comes to payment, 53% drive-thru, 54% take-out, and 50% in-restaurant customers say flexible options are important to them. The ability to split checks efficiently and accurately makes taking care of the bill easy.

With so many applications to access our money, next-gen customers want the option to pay by phone—48% of drive-through, 46% take-out, and 31% in-restaurant—and of those, 50% say they want to be able to do so using the restaurant app.

Creating a satisfying customer journey is painless when equipped with the right tools for the job. The restaurant specific technology makes for smooth management and paves the way to a successful customer experience.

Featured Customer: Mama’s

Mama’s Comfort Food & Cocktails, Newport Beach

Mama’s on 39, a nostalgic multi-unit eatery serving comfort food classics in Huntington Beach, joined the Focus Family in September 2017. They wanted a restaurant point-of-sale system that could help them provide excellent customer service alongside a taste of home to their local community.

Focus CA equipped their restaurant with responsive POS workstations designed to keep up with the ever changing conditions of a busy kitchen. This in conjunction with quick processing kitchen video systems power Mama’s with the robust technology they need to serve their customers productively and efficiently.

Since Mama’s first went live in 2017, they’ve gone on to open two more locations in Orange County: Los Alamitos in 2018 and Newport Beach at the beginning of 2019, both powered by Focus CA point of sale.

“Mama’s kitchen was always the one spot in our home where we gathered to enjoy each other and our Mama’s amazing cooking. We cherished the sweet aroma of homemade biscuits baking in the oven, the sounds of sizzling bacon and farm fresh eggs crackling on the stovetop. The refreshing lemonade and Mama’s secret recipes for anything and everything good kept us so comfy. Mama always knew how to make everything alright, regardless of the world around us. We love Mama so much, we want to share her with all of you!” — Mama’s on 39

“We started with Focus a few years ago. We were looking for a POS company that would work with us in growing our business and our technology. Juan at Focus has been a great partner and we will be installing Focus at all of our future locations” – Robert Corrigan, Partner at Mama’s on 39 & Mama’s Comfort Food & Cocktails⁠

Find a Mama’s near you here.

Tablet Point of Sale

Tablet point of sale software takes traditional point of sale to the next level, giving you the capabilities to enhance the customer experience and streamline your operations. Your staff can take orders and process payments from anywhere in the restaurant, thereby improving sales and customer satisfaction. 

Overall Benefits of Tablet POS Technology

Tablet POS software provide great advantages for restaurants and foodservice establishments:

Versatility

Tablets offer greater flexibility of use than regular POS terminals. They can be mounted on a stationary unit that is either monitored by a cashier or used as a self-service kiosk, or used by staff to take orders and process payments on-the-go. They can also be placed on tables for self-ordering and serve as advertising space to promote menu items and specials.

Increased Efficiency, Accuracy, and Sales

Orders placed on tablets are transmitted directly to the kitchen, resulting in faster prep times and reduced service errors. Fewer errors will eliminate the costs of food and time wasted on wrong orders, while providing a more comfortable dining experience for your customers. Sales can increase through consistent up-selling prompts, and customers are more likely to dine again with efficient service.

Line Busting

Tablet POS reduces long wait times by allowing your staff to move through the lines taking orders and increasing customer through-put. A self-service tablet kiosk will have the same effect.

Ergonomic Advantage

Traditional POS terminals can be large and clunky, taking up more counter space than you may be able to spare — especially in a smaller restaurant. Tablets are smaller and lighter, providing a better option for tight spaces.

How Mobile POS is Changing the Restaurant Industry

Server Benefits

  • Less running: When servers don’t have to run orders back to the kitchen, or run credit cards back and forth to a central terminal for processing, they save a lot of steps and time that can be better spent interacting with customers
  • More table turns: Faster ordering and payment processes lead to more table turns per shift and tip opportunities. Table-side technology can increase turnover time by 7 to 10 minutes

Customer Benefits

  • Fewer service errors: Especially with self-ordering, customers can be sure they’ll get exactly what they ordered, prepared to their specifications
  • Greater data security: When customers can pay at the table, their credit or debit cards stay under their control, eliminating the risk of card skimming or identity theft
  • Shorter wait times: Faster table turnovers lead to shorter wait times for incoming customers. The sooner a hungry diner can be seated and start ordering, the happier they’ll be with the experience

House Benefits

  • Higher profits: Larger ticket sizes, more customers served, more satisfied customers retained, less paper and food waste, and more efficient labor use all add up to greater profits
  • Fast ROI: Tablets and table-side devices often have a lower initial investment cost than traditional POS. Coupled with the revenue generation and cost savings that will follow, return on that investment won’t take long.

Restaurants need every technology advantage to stay ahead in a highly competitive environment and provide customers with the efficiency and convenience they expect.

If you’re ready to add tablet point of sale software to your arsenal, contact one of our Solutions Consultants to get started today.

Using Loyalty Marketing to Grow Your Brand and Improve Guest Retention

Engaging existing customers who already have prior knowledge and experience with your brand is not only cheaper, but also easier.

According to the book Marketing Metrics, the probability of companies selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. On the other hand, the probability of selling to a new customer is 5 – 20%.

Loyalty marketing focuses on bringing back and retaining existing customers with rewards and incentives—which is better for your business. Read on to learn how to use loyalty marketing to grow your brand:

1.) Collect customer feedback and send timely e-blasts about targeted promotions, events, and coupons relevant to their interests.

2.) Offer point-based reward plans and incentivize customers to build their balance by purchasing select menu items.

3.) Grant bonus discounts to give your customers immediate satisfaction.

The Focus Loyalty program gives your restaurant a competitive edge by building a system of incentives and rewards so you can win new customers and inspire them to become regulars.

Contact one of our Solutions Consultants today to learn more about Focus Loyalty.

All About EMV

What is EMV?

EMV is the term for the new worldwide way of transacting, processing, securing, and handling credit card data. As of October 2015, merchants (including restaurants) are encouraged to move to accepting credit cards using EMV.

Am I legally required to accept credit cards using EMV?

No, there is currently no law stating that you need to process via EMV. However, you may receive severe chargebacks from customers and their banks if you are not accepting their credit card via EMV methods.

What are chargebacks?

As of October 2015, you (the merchant) are liable for any fraudulent transactions ran at your restaurant if that transaction is not processed using EMV.

Example: An individual eats at your restaurant and uses a stolen credit card with a chip to pay for their $40 check, but you did not run their credit card using a chip reader (EMV). The true owner of that credit card will see that charge on their bank statement and report it to their bank as fraud. In the past, the bank would be responsible for that charge. However, as of October 2015, the merchant must shoulder the cost and that $40 chargeback will be taken out of the restaurant’s bank account.

Do I need to order my EMV Payment Terminal from Focus CA?

Yes. Since the Focus system relies on our Focus Pay software suite, you must order Focus-compatible EMV Payment Terminals. The terminals are preloaded with the correct configuration packages to work seamlessly with your current Focus POS system.

Here is a list of Focus-compatible EMV Payment Terminals. Please contact one of our Solutions Consultants to get started.

Creating a Seamless Omnichannel Experience

An omnichannel operation means that you provide a seamless customer experience across all channels, be it online, a physical store, or by phone.

While omnichannel strategy was traditionally specific to the retail environment, restaurant owners are beginning to recognize its value in the hospitality sector as well. In an era of constant connectivity, providing positive customer experiences both online and offline is critical.

Here are three ways omnichannel affects restaurants:

Ordering Convenience

Customers expect the ultimate in ordering convenience. In world that values convenience and speed above all, customers will always go for the most convenient option. Make yourself visible and easy to do business with by leveraging an online ordering solution. Far more customers also use mobile phones to look up restaurant information and place orders, so a mobile ordering solution is necessary.

Loyalty and Rewards

Customers want to be rewarded for continuing to choose you over the competition, and they want those rewards to be based on their existing preferences. Personalized promotions are much more effective because they recommend items that customers already want. It’s a win/win—you benefit from increased sales, and they benefit from discounted rates on items they were already interested in.

Harvard conducted a study which revealed that increasing repeat business by just 5% can increase profits anywhere between 25% and 125%. Omnichannel loyalty and rewards programs are must-have features to retain customers and drive revenue.

Consistent Branding

Not only are you expected to offer online and mobile ordering options, but consistent branding should be carried through all platforms. Your online ordering and mobile apps should match the branding of your website, and should tie in with the overall theme of your restaurant.

Consistent branding across channels boosts brand recognition and elevates your image. It also helps increase customer satisfaction by providing a seamless customer experience throughout all of your channels.

Theory vs. Practice

An omnichannel restaurant strategy sounds like an easy way to stay competitive, boost profits, and retain customers, and it is—if you have the right technology in place. Operating a successful omnichannel restaurant requires solutions that integrate seamlessly with your POS. Disparate systems that can’t communicate with one another can prevent you from reaching the consistency needed to execute your omnichannel restaurant strategy.

Focus CA offers a wide range of restaurant solutions that easily integrate with your POS and allow you to operate a successful omnichannel business. For more information, contact one of our Solutions Consultants today.